What happened to Fort York in Manitoba, Canada?

Some things are just straight up interesting. Let's start with the so-called Port Nelson in Manitoba, Canada. Its peak population in the early 20th century was about 1,000 people but today it is a ghost town.


Port Nelson is on Hudson Bay at the mouth of the Nelson River.


Port Nelson was named by Thomas Button who wintered there in 1612.
  • August 15, 1612 Captain Thomas Button seeking for a harbour on the west coast of Hudson's Bay in which he might repair damages incurred during a severe storm, discovered the mouth of a large river which he designated Port Nelson, from the name of the master of his ship whom he buried there.
  • It was during the period from 1660-1870 - when many Assiniboine and Swampy Cree trappers and hunters became middlemen in the Hudson’s Bay Company - that the Cree began to be referred to as "three distinct groups: the Woodland Cree, the Plains Cree, and the Swampy Cree (Ray 1998)."
  • The Swampy Cree and the Assiniboine used the Nelson River, along with the Hayes River, as the main inland routes to the great inland lake, Lake Winnipeg.
  • Although the Nelson is much larger, the Hayes was a better route into the interior. Therefore, most of the Hudson's Bay Company's trade was done from York Factory on the Hayes, which was built in 1684.
  • For more than two hundred years, from two to five sailing vessels, on an average, frequently with war ships conveying them, have sailed annually from Europe and America to Port Nelson, or other ports in Hudson's Bay and returned with cargoes the same season via the only available route, Hudson's Straits.
Thomas Button
Sir Thomas Button was a Welsh officer of the Royal Navy, notable as an explorer who in 1612–1613 commanded an expedition that unsuccessfully attempted to locate explorer Henry Hudson and to navigate the Northwest Passage.

1575 - 1634

It appears that this is only a portion of a bigger painting. I could not find the entire thing. What do you think he has in his right hand?

The Area
The entire area appears to have been obliterated by an event of tremendous magnitude: Circular lakes: evidence of the War of Gods?


Zoom In

York Factory aka York Fort
York Factory was a settlement and Hudson's Bay Company factory (trading post) located on the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay at the mouth of the Hayes River, approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) south-southeast of Churchill.
  • York Factory was one of the first fur-trading posts established by the HBC, built in 1684 and used in that business for more than 270 years.
  • York Factory - Wikipedia
I think in the wiki article they meant to say 140 miles south-southeast of Churchill.


Some York Factory History
The first three HBC (Hudson's Bay Company) posts were established on James Bay about 1670. In 1684, Fort Nelson, a fur trading post at the mouth of the Nelson River and the first headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company, was established at the mouth of the nearby Nelson River.
  • The company built a second fort, York Factory, on the Hayes river, naming it after the Duke of York.
    • The establishment of these forts provoked a response from New France.
  • In the Hudson Bay expedition (1686), the French marched overland from Quebec and captured all the posts on James Bay.
  • During King William's War, France several times sent a naval force to Hudson Bay to capture or destroy the fort.
  • In 1694, d'Iberville returned and captured York Factory with a show of force.
    • He renamed it Fort Bourbon.
    • English forces returned the next year and retook the fort from its small French garrison.
  • In 1697, d'Iberville won the Battle of Hudson's Bay, the largest Arctic naval battle in North American history.
    • The French force won in the naval battle with three English warships and again captured York Factory - D'Iberville had laid siege to the fort in such a way as to give the appearance of having a much stronger force.
  • York Factory was held by the French until 1713, when it was returned to the British in the Treaty of Utrecht.
    • At that time, the HBC again placed its northern headquarters at York Factory, at the mouth of the Hayes River.
Star Fort at York Factory
Between 1788 and 1795, the company constructed an octagonal star fort of stone and brick at York Factory. The choice of material was poor, however, as the stone and brick could not stand up to heaving permafrost, and in 1831, the stone fort was razed.

1694 vs. 1788
As you can see, there was a star fort there in 1694. Hypothetically, it might have been built of wood, but we don't know that. Officially, the star fort was built between 1788 and 1795.


Let's take a look at this 1714 map by Pierre van der Aa. It appears that things are more or less matching between the above 1694 depiction, and the below 1714 map.


It is my understanding that:
  • Bourbon River = Nelson River
  • Saint Therese River = Hayes River
Let's Zoom In
It does not take a genius to notice a footprint of the former star fort. As you can see it was approximately 880 feet across. For comparison, RMS Titanic was 883 feet long. In meters we have approximately 265-270 meters.


Forgive my lack of skills, but I am picturing this Fort York-Bourbon being situated in a manner similar to my depiction below.


In 1853 this York Factory looked like this, they say.


This is the area today.


Fort York vs Prince of Wales Fort
We are told that "between 1788 and 1795, the company constructed an octagonal star fort of stone and brick at York Factory. The choice of material was poor, however, as the stone and brick could not stand up to heaving permafrost, and in 1831, the stone fort was razed."
Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales Fort, situated ~140 miles northwest of Fort York is doing just fine.


As you can see, it still exists today.

Prince of Wales Fort

Construction of this fort, a structure still standing today, was started in 1731 near what was then called Eskimo Point. It was in the form of a square, with sides 90 m (300 ft) long and walls 6 m (20 ft) tall and 9 m (30 ft) thick at the base.
This fort has an octagon in the middle. I think this is what the dude in this video was referring to as a possible power station location.


It is fairly obvious, that half of the area occupied by Fort York in 1694 is covered by the Hayes River today. If the Hayes River changed its course due to natural reasons, and it resulted in half of the fort getting swallowed by the river... why wouldn't they simply say so? If they decided to raze the fort because it was about to get consumed by the river, and to preserve construction materials the fort was disassembled... why wouldn't they say so?
  • Why do we get this instead?
    • The choice of material was poor, however, as the stone and brick could not stand up to heaving permafrost, and in 1831, the stone fort was razed. (The Prince of Wales fort does not seem to care about the permafrost)
Question: what happened to the fort and to the general area?

1688 Map
Well, and then we have the below image on this 1688 Map. The map was allegedly produced by Vincenzo Coronelli. In the description section we have the following:
  • In terms of geography, the map was one of the most updated representations of North America available at that time, even if some of that geography later proved chimerical.
1688 map 2.jpg

KD: What do you guys think happened to Fort York, when was it built, and what structure Mr. Coronelli disclosed on the above image?


Feb 5, 2021
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Thank you for the article.
I was interested in the image of cannibals on the map presented at the very end of your article. What's surprising is that just below, to the southeast, other people are quietly busy with normal barbecue (fish?, seal?).


Translation first. May those who speak Italian forgive me and perhaps correct me. Hereinafter, DeepL. "Thomas Buttons inuernando nel Porto di Nelson, troua che quel Mare hauea ih piedi di flusso di 12 in 12 hore; lo ftesso fu dal medo osseruato l'Estate swguente all'atezza di 60 Gradi." — "Thomas Buttons, entering the port of Nelson, found that this sea had a current velocity of 12 feet at 12 o'clock; The same was observed that summer at 60 degrees." (text near the cannibals).


By the way there we can see the idol (?), it is difficult to make out because it is depicted sideways, but in my opinion there is some "antiquity" of this sculpture (I tried in Photoshop to turn the building a little bit with the facade towards the viewer).


Besides, people without clothes, even though they're warming themselves by the fire. Is the weather in this region conducive to that? Probably not, since this book [Elminthologia Or Some Physical Considerations of the Matter, Origination and Several Species of Wormes, Macerating and Cruciating Every Part of the Bodies of Mankind. (etc.). — William I Ramsay, 1668] says the following about it and its neighboring region: "In Mosco in 53. degrees of Latitude, and Buttons Bay in 52. Snow and hard Frosts all the Winter long, nay, and most part of the Summer too; and here again in this our Island in the same Latitude, we have more open and temperate weather."


Just below where the fish fry is, it says this: "La Nuoua Galle Meridianale Scoperta dag l'Inglesi." — "The Nuoua Galle Meridianale discovered by the English." Google Books about "New South Wales" not enough has been written, or is it just my bad luck. In my opinion the messages in the two books are noteworthy.
"A Compleat Delineation and Description of the Several Regions & Countries in the Whole World", Thomas Porter (topographer.) 1661, page 79.


"A New Cosmography, or Survey of the Whole World; in six ingenious and comprehensive discourses, etc. [With two engravings.]" Guy Miege 1682, pages 83 & 125.
This tells us that the name "New South Wales" is quite well established for this area if it appears in several books before the map is published.
Who are these cannibals?
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